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Build Me Up Buttercup
Momentum Stalling for Paris Climate Summit

We’re just seven months away from a “historic” meeting on climate change in Paris, a summit that’s being billed as the most important iteration in a series that’s been more characterized by their regularity than by productivity—and already we’re seeing worrying signs. Greens are pegging their Global Climate Treaty hopes—errant though they might be—on this meeting, but the UN’s top climate official has worked to lower expectations for Paris. Now, as Reuters reports, French president Francois Hollande is adding his own voice to the dismayed chorus:

Hollande said on Wednesday that only 37 of 196 U.N. member states had so far submitted plans to the United Nations outlining their actions to slow global warming beyond 2020. The plans are meant to be the building blocks for a deal in Paris.

“I note and I am concerned that at the moment I am speaking there are only 37 submissions,” Hollande told the Paris Business and Climate conference, where global chief executives are discussing how industry can help fight climate change.

Hollande hinted that securing a GCT would be something of a miracle, and he’s right. The divide between the developing and developed world over who is responsible for what, and who should do what today, is enormous. Countries ultimately act in their own self-interests, and when it comes to climate change those are so thorny and varied as to scupper any attempt to unify international action under a single treaty. And even if, by some miracle, the delegates assembled manage to produce a climate treaty, there’s virtually no chance it will include an enforcement mechanism—the U.S. Congress, for one, would veto any such formulation. Lacking that, the GCT would be little more than a modern-day Kellogg-Briand pact.

Environmentalists eager for international action on climate change have built this Paris summit up, in both their own minds and in the media, as the make-or-break moment for the planet. But if those officials closest to its preparation are any indication, greens are setting themselves up for disappointment.

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  • Fat_Man

    Two weeks in Paris. What could be bad? Not the food, not the wine. They will be thrilled with the meetings in Paris.

  • Rick Johnson

    Whenever the Greens are disappointed, humanity has had a win. No different this time around. The Great Green Con is unravelling even if the dimwitted at TAI can’t see it or don’t wish to acknowledge it.

  • iconoclast

    And impoverishing your country based on an unproven theory conspicuously supported by researchers willing to engage in scientific misconduct isn’t terribly attractive to most leaders. Few countries are led by leaders with a discernible antipathy for their own country, other than the USA I don’t know of any.

  • Stu

    Why is this one any different than any of the previous meetings? I thought the last one was the last true opportunity to solve the problem?

  • bff426

    Make or brake? Is that meant as a pun?

  • John Cameron

    President Obama, Prince Charles et al jetted into Paris to help 100,000
    delegates and hangers-on create the largest carbon footprint of any international
    conference in history. Their aim is “a binding treaty” committing all nations
    to make huge cuts in carbon dioxide emissions to hold global temperatures to 2C
    above pre-industrial levels. However gentle warning and rising levels of CO2
    improve conditions for crops and humanity while industrializing nations still
    rely on cheap and abundant supplies of coal. There may be general
    agreement that climate does change and greenhouse gases can raise global
    surface temperatures but beyond that the science rapidly breaks down. The sheer
    number of variables, not to mention the interplay and feedback loops that exist
    between them, means that at present climatic predictions are little better than
    guesswork. A binding treaty is simply not going to appear so all this Puritanical
    hot air and air-miles carbon will produce is the usual meaningless green fudge.

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